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AFF U16 Championship

Malaysia U-15 advance to AFF semis and top group, courtesy of another last-minute own goal equaliser

7:47 PM GMT+4 05/08/2019
Malaysia U-15, AFF U-15 Championship, 30072019
Malaysia have set a semi-final date against Group A runners up Vietnam in the 2019 AFF U-15 Championship, following their 1-1 draw against Thailand.


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


Malaysia have set a semi-final date against Group A runners up Vietnam in the 2019 AFF U-15 Championship, following their 1-1 draw against Thailand on the final Group B matchday on Monday.

Maniam Pachaiappan's boys only needed a draw going into the match, to top the group following three wins and one draw, or to avoid a heavy defeat to the hosts in order to qualify as group runners up, and with these favourable odds the head coach fielded mostly his second stringers.

The hosts went in front in the 18th minute through Pornsawan Sankla's precise strike, and led for almost the rest of the game, despite a better performance by Malaysia after the break.

But just like in their penultimate group match against Laos two days earlier, Maniam's charges were handed a fortuitous reprieve at the death, one that ensured that the game ended in a draw, and that Malaysia ended the group stage as Group B winners. A brief lapse in focus caused Sittha Boonlha to knock a long cross from the left into his own net in injury time, gifting Malaysia the equaliser.

Last Saturday, Malaysia trailed 1-0 against Laos for much of the game, until a freak stray ball bounced over goalkeeper Kop Lokphathip and into the net for a late equalising goal.

Malaysia and Thailand advance to the semis as group winners and runners up respectively at the expense of tournament favourites Australia, who ended their campaign in third place on 10 points, just one point behind the two sides.

Commenting briefly on the win, Maniam remarked that even though their equaliser came from a late own goal, it happened due to his charges' relentless effort.

"It was a last-minute own goal, but it was caused by us creating a lot of chances. That's how it happened.

"The players and staff are doing a good job, but it's not over yet. We need to turn our attention towards the semi-finals now." 

In the semi-finals on Wednesday, Thailand will face Group A winners Indonesia at 4 pm Malaysian time, while Malaysia will take on Vietnam at 7. The final match and the third place decider will be held two days later on August 9.

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